Italy and France agree to hold emergency G-7 meeting on debt crisis

Italy and France agreed to hold an emergency G-7meeting on the prolonged debt crisis plaguing Europe, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Friday.

Mr. Berlusconi told a press conference that he and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed during a telephone conversation to hold a G-7 Finance Ministers meeting in a few days.

He also made phone calls to other European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy to discuss measures to tackle the debt crisis.

The press conference was held after the Italian main FTSE Mib stock market index closed Friday down 0.70%, hitting a new record low at 16,015 pts.

The Country's stock market has suffered a heavy blow for 5 consecutive trading days since last Monday and the index dropped 5.16% Thursday.

The spread of Italian 10-yr government bonds over benchmark German Bunds rose to 416 basis points Friday, a new record since the Euro was introduced, before it fell to 375 basis points when the market closed.

"There is a very particular attention from International speculation on us that we must try to counter," Mr. Berlusconi said.

The Prime Minister promised to bring forward an austerity budget plan, aiming to achieve a balanced budget by Y 2013, 1 yr ahead of the original schedule.

The austerity plan, worth over 70B Euros (aboutUS$99-B), was approved by the Italian parliament last month to secure public finances and reassure Global markets of the country's financial solidity.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr.